Category Archives: Zoetrope

more writing process

Thanks to Marja McGraw at http://www.blog.marjamcgraw.com/ , I have been tagged once more for the Writing Process Blog Tour, so in case anyone missed it the first go round, here it is again!

If any of you follow more writers besides me, you’ve probably seen others doing the Writing Process Blog Tour, in which different writers discuss the stories they’re working on and how they do it. They tag the writer who tagged them, and find other writers to join in. What you get out of it? Finding new writers and spreading the word!

Here are my answers:

What Am I Working On?
Right now, I’m working on what I hope will become the first book in another series, set in what will later become Mt. Rainier National Park.  My hero is a young man from Savannah, Georgia, who is traveling west in the summer of 1885 in hopes of a cure for his consumption (tuberculosis, very common but as yet uncurable at that time, although not always fatal in the short term), but also to escape from his smothering family.  And that’s about exactly how far I am with Stephen’s story right now, except that it does have a title:  Zoetrope, which is also the name of a simple 19th century gizmo for creating the illusion of moving images, which may give you a slight idea as to where I intend to go with this one. Or not.

I’m also revising my “highway patrolman crashes his cruiser out in the wilds east of the Cascade Mountains and finds himself in the local equivalent of Brigadoon” story.  Brigadoon if it wasn’t silly and full of music, that is.  That one’s called Sojourn.

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?
I’ve never actually run across other books in my particular sub-genre, which isn’t to say that they don’t exist.  My books are fantasy, but they’re not quest fantasy or urban fantasy.  Definitely not urban.  Almost all of them are historical because they involve time travel and other fantastical hijinks, but they’re not in located in the usual settings for historical fantasy, even though there’s a lot of straight historical fiction, and other time travel novels for that matter, set in the Old West, but not any fantasy set in national parks that I’m aware of.  Love stories are central to all of my books, but only one of them is a genre romance, and it’s contemporary.  It’s also something of an aberration, because I have no other genre romances in the works.  I have to admit this has made my Yellowstone trilogy-plus (the plus being the short story “Homesick“, which is available for free through my website) the marketing challenge from heck.

Why Do I Write What I Do?
Because I have a penchant for looking at perfectly ordinary things and thinking, “what if?”  Well, okay, Grand Geyser is not ordinary in any normal sense of the term, but I don’t know of anyone else who has watched the Grand erupt in all its glory and thought, “wouldn’t that make a terrific time travel device!”  A lot of my writing (like much of my own sense of identity) is inspired by a sense of place, and from learning about a place’s history.  The people generally just show up and tell me that I need to take their dictation about the bizarre adventures they’ve had, which isn’t to say that they’re not important.  I read for character, pretty much full stop, so I write for it, too.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?
Lois McMaster Bujold once talked about her writing process as “writing to the next event horizon.”  That’s pretty much what I do, too (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, especially when it works).  I brainstorm the plot until I’ve gotten as far as I can get, then I sit down and write up to that point, then I brainstorm till I’ve hit the next event horizon, then I write to that point, and so on and so forth till I’ve reached The End.

I like to know the end point I’m aiming for early on, but that doesn’t always happen, and even when it does it often changes before I get there.  The only time I actually knew the very last sentence in the book when I started was with True Gold, my Klondike Gold Rush novel and the second in my Time in Yellowstone series (yes, I managed to get Yellowstone into a Klondike Gold Rush novel – if you want to know how, read the book [g]).  I won’t say what it was because it’s a spoiler, but I knew from the very beginning exactly who was going to say the last line, and what he was going to say.  And he did!

So, that’s how I write, and now I am tagging Angela Highland, at http://www.angelahighland.com/.

I hope you enjoyed this encore presentation of my writing process blog.

 

Writing Process Blog Tour

If any of you follow more writers besides me, you’ve probably seen others doing the Writing Process Blog Tour, in which different writers discuss the stories they’re working on and how they do it. They tag the writer who tagged them, and find other writers to join in. What you get out of it? Finding new writers and spreading the word!

So, Angela Highland tagged me.  She’s annathepiper on LiveJournal and DreamWidth.   She has her own Writing Process post here on LJ and here on DW.

Here are my answers:

What Am I Working On?
Right now, I’m working on what I hope will become the first book in another series, set in what will later become Mt. Rainier National Park.  My hero is a young man from Savannah, Georgia, who is traveling west in the summer of 1885 in hopes of a cure for his consumption (tuberculosis, very common but as yet uncurable at that time, although not always fatal in the short term), but also to escape from his smothering family.  And that’s about exactly how far I am with Stephen’s story right now, except that it does have a title:  Zoetrope, which is also the name of a simple 19th century gizmo for creating the illusion of moving images, which may give you a slight idea as to where I intend to go with this one. Or not.

Once I finish building the museum exhibit that is consuming the rest of my life between now and May 3rd when it opens at the Lakewood Historical Society, I will also be revising my “highway patrolman crashes his cruiser out in the wilds east of the Cascade Mountains and finds himself in the local equivalent of Brigadoon” story.  Brigadoon if it wasn’t silly and full of music, that is.  That one’s called Sojourn.

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?
I’ve never actually run across other books in my particular sub-genre, which isn’t to say that they don’t exist.  My books are fantasy, but they’re not quest fantasy or urban fantasy.  Definitely not urban.  Almost all of them are historical because they involve time travel and other fantastical hijinks, but they’re not in located in the usual settings for historical fantasy, even though there’s a lot of straight historical fiction, and other time travel novels for that matter, set in the Old West, but not any fantasy set in national parks that I’m aware of.  Love stories are central to all of my books, but only one of them is a genre romance, and it’s contemporary.  It’s also something of an aberration, because I have no other genre romances in the works.  I have to admit this has made my Yellowstone trilogy-plus (the plus being the short story “Homesick“, which is available for free through my website) the marketing challenge from heck.

Why Do I Write What I Do?
Because I have a penchant for looking at perfectly ordinary things and thinking, “what if?”  Well, okay, Grand Geyser is not ordinary in any normal sense of the term, but I don’t know of anyone else who has watched the Grand erupt in all its glory and thought, “wouldn’t that make a terrific time travel device!”  A lot of my writing (like much of my own sense of identity) is inspired by a sense of place, and from learning about a place’s history.  The people generally just show up and tell me that I need to take their dictation about the bizarre adventures they’ve had, which isn’t to say that they’re not important.  I read for character, pretty much full stop, so I write for it, too.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?
Lois McMaster Bujold once talked about her writing process as “writing to the next event horizon.”  That’s pretty much what I do, too (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, especially when it works).  I brainstorm the plot until I’ve gotten as far as I can get, then I sit down and write up to that point, then I brainstorm till I’ve hit the next event horizon, then I write to that point, and so on and so forth till I’ve reached The End.

I like to know the end point I’m aiming for early on, but that doesn’t always happen, and even when it does it often changes before I get there.  The only time I actually knew the very last sentence in the book when I started was with True Gold, my Klondike Gold Rush novel and the second in my Time in Yellowstone series (yes, I managed to get Yellowstone into a Klondike Gold Rush novel – if you want to know how, read the book [g]).  I won’t say what it was because it’s a spoiler, but I knew from the very beginning exactly who was going to say the last line, and what he was going to say.  And he did!

So, that’s how I write, and if you’re a fellow writer and you would like to be tagged, comment here and I’ll amend the post.

A chat with my hero, on the subject of being stuck

Stephen, I need your help.

Stephen, are you there?

Oh, so I am to be at your beck and call, am I?

No.  It’s more that I’m at yours.  But I need your help.  Really, truly.

You cannot need my help that badly, if you can stop to play a game of solitaire in the middle of asking me.

Solitaire is an avoidance mechanism.  You know that.

What are you avoiding, pray tell?

You really do want to know?  That’s- that’s great.  I need you to get me  I need to get out of my head.

You need me to get you “out of your head.”  I see the strikethroughs, dear.  What makes you think I am capable of doing that?  I am not much of anything except a burden.

Is that how you feel?  Honestly?

I am sick.  I am basically helpless as you have written me.

You won’t be by the end of the book.  I promise you.

Right now I am quite positive you could not write me out of a paper bag.

I know.  That’s why I need your help.

You wish me to do your job?

My job is to take the dictation.  Your job is to talk.

Well, and so.  I had not thought of it that way before.  Then shall we get started?

On being bullied.

If you’re here to read about horrible experiences of being bullied, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place.  I’m not here to talk about that – I was one of the lucky kids who actually had the adults stand on my side when bullies attacked me.  So I’m not really in a position to speak for those of you who did not have Real Grown-Ups ™ to depend on in the clinch, instead of the fake kind who either don’t know how to (in which case how did they get hired for a job they’re so eminently unqualified for?) or refuse to (in which case why haven’t they been fired?) do the right thing.  All I can do along those lines is be sorry.

No, I’m here to talk about being bullied by a fictional character.  How is that possible, you say?  I suppose I could quote F. Scott Fitzgerald here, but he’s not exactly what you’d call a sane source.  “Writers aren’t exactly people.  They’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.”  Sometimes those “whole lot of people” get a bit out of hand in the writer’s brain.  Sometimes they don’t make a whole lot of sense.

Sometimes they want to go off on their own treks for their own reasons, and refuse to explain why until seven chapters later the writer realizes she’s either brilliant or she’s written herself into a hole from which she’ll never escape.  And you never know which until he’s done it.  Again.

No, those characters aren’t real.  And yes, planning and outlining ahead of time can be an excellent idea.  And, yes, I can hear all those rational writers out there saying, she’s not a real author because she treats this as an adventure she goes on rather than as a job she performs.  A self-published author at that.  Not a professional author at all, although if people are buying what I write isn’t that the definition of professional?  And they are.  A few of them, anyway.

And that’s a subject for a post I will never write.

Where was I?  Ah.  Being bullied by a fictional character who refuses to tell me What Happens Next ™.  Well, I have my methods, too, thankyouverymuch.  I have thumbscrews and the rack and all sorts of metaphorical torture devices.

And you know what the worst one is?

It’s refusing to write that character’s story.  So there.

I can move on to the next story, and the next character, one who’ll be grateful I listen to him and find his adventures entertaining enough to write down.  The recalcitrant fellow can’t find another author.  So he’d better sit down and start talking.  Now.

Later.  Well, and so.  The New Thing now has a title, among other things.  Zoetrope.  If you don’t know what a zoetrope is, here’s the Wikipedia article.  And Stephen is talking again.  He’s not the only one who can be a bully.